Friday, 21 November 2008

EU Commission workshop on IPR and ICT standardisation

Last Wednesday the long-announced workshop on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and ICT standardisation, organised by the EU Commission, took place in Brussels. It was a long day with speeches and panels from 9 am in the morning till the 6 pm. And it was a very interesting and inspiring day.

The agenda was extremely well drafted and one session really built on the preceeding one. And the speakers almost covered the full range of opinions. In my mind, the open source community with just one speaker came a bit short; similarly one or more service providers were missing from the panels. The full list of participants as well as all presentations are available on the respective website of DG Enterprise.

In my view the workshop was a success. It showed very clearly that there are several issues on IPR around that impact progress in standardisation. And it showed that there are several good ideas available for how to proceed, how to improve the current systems. Among them are the concept of Soft IP presented by a colleague from IBM and the ideas for how to improve the situation around the traditional FRAND licensing presented by a colleague from Nokia. [FRAND stands for Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory.]

Moreover, remarkable in my mind were in particular the opening address by Director General Heinz Zourek (DG Enterprise) who, among other things, stressed the benefits of Ex ante policies and expressed that to him Ex ante is the future. Secondly, Director Cecilio Madero (DG Competition) was extremely good reconfirming the Commission's position on openness and open standards as well as on the need to be able to follow Ex ante practices. Director Madero thus reconfirmed the positions Commissioner Kroes had given in summer at a meeting organised by the Open Forum Europe (OFE).

What is important now are the next steps - what comes next after this excellent workshop. There was broad agreement that the workshop is only the beginning of a longer process cosisting of further discussions and other follow on work. I agree with that and - as I expressed at the conference - encourage the Commission to go ahead and pursue a specific study on the topic of IPRs in ICT standardisation. There are so many ideas around of how to improve the system, how to make prgress. All of these ideas deserve to be taken up. A study specifically dedicated on the needs and costs of standardisation should neutrally analise the situation and propose some recommendations for actions. This view was also largely shared by the last panel.

The Commission also invited everyone to submit comments on the revision of the commission's policy re IPR. Position papers can still be submitted till end of this month. Please see link below for more details:,

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